Apparently Mark Letestu eating mustard on the bench isn’t the biggest Winnipeg Jets-related news of the week. The team came to terms on a deal with star winger Patrik Laine on Friday, signing him to a two-year deal that carries a $6.75 million AAV.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun indicates that the two sides had been batting around different two-year arrangements for at least one week.
A two-year deal with Laine is interesting because he’ll remain an RFA once this is up after 2020-21. The Jets aren’t out of the woods when it comes to RFAs just yet, as Kyle Connor remains a prominent one, but this is a pretty nice break for Winnipeg in the short term. Laine gets to prove himself, but a $6.75M cap hit is team-friendly … for now.
(For what it’s worth, the price tag is high by some estimations.)
The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports the structure as such:
Young players often get an unfair reputation for being all-offense, no-defense, yet that label might be somewhat fair for Laine. The 21-year-old scored 30 goals and 50 points last season, and had 44 goals and 70 points in 2017-18, yet some of his work is offset by all-around struggles. Evolving Hockey’s multiple-season RAPM chart captures a winger who sometimes gives off an “all-or-nothing” feel:
Still, goals are valuable, and Laine could easily be worth more than $6.75M per year if he rounds out his game. That also would make his next contract a potential bombshell.
Connor isn’t the only noteworthy RFA who still needs a new contract. Mikko Rantanen could end up with a whopper of a deal with the Colorado Avalanche, while Julius Honka has a very different, interesting situation trying to solidify his career with (or without) the Dallas Stars.